There was a period in Harry Garside’s childhood that he roamed the streets at midnight, took drugs and drunk alcohol. The 26-year-old admits he often found himself at “crossroad moments”, which could have led to a disastrous unravelling.
Boxing was his saviour.
“I’ve got this extreme personality, and then also you wrap that with this want to fit in, you’re riddled with insecurities and stuff like that … Absolutely, there was a period of time in my life where if I made a few other decisions and I wasn’t being successful in boxing — there were so many moments in my teenage years where I was like, ‘Is boxing going to be the thing that I’m actually going to be able to do?’,” Garside said on 3AW’s Neil Mitchell Asks Why podcast.
“Riddled with self-doubt, wasn’t getting the success that I thought I needed to be an Olympic gold medallist or be successful as a boxer … Absolutely, I could have gone down a negative path.”
Garside took up boxing when he was nine. He felt like he wasn’t as tough as his older brothers, Josh and Jack, so he jumped in the ring searching for validation.
His mum said on the 3AW podcast that, as a teenager, he was invested in boxing 90 per cent of the time. Boxing is not a sport for the faint-hearted, but Garside had scarier moments outside the ring, when experimenting with drugs and booze on the streets.
“I’m so grateful that the love of boxing and my role models and The Reach Foundation — that’s a massive foundation that also helped me at the right time,” said Garside, who connected with the youth welfare organisation in year 10.
“I’m really grateful that everything seemed to happen just perfectly almost, that I dabbled my feet in that then felt the shame and guilt of … doing things that you shouldn’t do as a teenager, then steered myself back into line and focused on my boxing career.
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“I had this obsession growing up that I wanted to be older, and then I had two older brothers who I just looked up to and absolutely idolised, so I spent a lot of time almost living above my years.
“I’m really grateful that boxing has always been my little saviour.”
Garside’s mum Kate admitted she had little knowledge of the questionable activities his son got up to as a teenager. But these days, the Garside family is a “very open family”, his mum said.
“But it wasn’t as bad as some people might think it was, and because it was very short-lived, because boxing was everything that Harry came back to, it was almost like, ‘OK, he’s gone off and he’s had his time being a normal teenager and now he’s back’, so I didn’t really worry about Harry that much when it came to those things because 90 per cent of the time he was into his boxing and nothing interfered with that.”
Garside won bronze in the men’s lightweight division at Tokyo 2020.
He’s now desperate to win gold in Paris.